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Archive for October, 2013

“Deliver me in Your righteousness, and cause me to escape; Incline Your ear to me, and save me. Be my strong refuge, To which I may resort continually; You have given the commandment to save me, For You are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, Out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.” (Psalm 71:2-4)

meI came across this picture today. Well not this exact image. I altered it and reposted the new photo here. The original was just a black and white photograph of the president with the added Bible passage down the right side. I later superimposed my image over Mr. Obama‘s.

I had to.

Admittedly, when I first saw (and read) the unaltered picture, my first thought was, “Yeah! That shoe fits him very well!” I easily surmised that he was in fact guilty. But then the Holy Spirit chimed in. “Dave,” the Father said inaudibly, “That shoe fits you very well, too.”

Ouch

I didn’t want to hear that, but the bell had been rung and I could not un-ring it. Because I had reacted the way I had, I felt compelled by the same Spirit to slap my ugly mug over the president’s kisser. The Lord knows that this feat was in no way an endorsement of the president’s practices and policies, but rather an indictment against my own. Arguably, the president’s actions are more grievous and far-reaching, but that does not negate the abominable things I have pulled off through the years.

Who is the Cruel Man?

As God would have it, Psalm 71 was part of my Bible reading this morning. With the above image still fresh in my mind I read, “Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, Out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man,” and I quickly deduced that I was the cruel man. I say that not to discount the reality of satan, or his minions, or the enemies of Christ Jesus, for they also fit the bill, but rather to recognize that I am my own worst enemy. For this reason I believe the Apostle Paul penned these words:

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Romans 7:18-19

It’s for this cause we are to reckon our own flesh dead.

Defending the President

Please hear me on this: I am not defending the president. However, neither am I saying that we cannot judge the reprehensible words or actions of another person. That’s an unbiblical doctrine as well. If I could proffer a quick tutorial on judging others, there are three kinds: Judging unto condemnation, judging to identify, and judging to restore. The first is not allowed, but the last two are. If you don’t agree, please leave your (kind) comments below and we’ll discuss.

What I am merely pointing out is that although sin is rampant, when we recognize transgression in others, we better be prepared for the Holy Spirit to point out ours. Having said that (and this is so very important), by the finished work of Jesus upon the cross, Christians are forgiven; our sins have been washed away by the blood of the Messiah and they are remembered no more. When the Holy Spirit convicted me this morning (in regard to the president’s picture), it was not over my former sin, but because I was waxing condemningly, as there was (for a brief moment) not a restorative thought in my heart or soul. I was quickly reminded that my offensives of yore were just as much an abomination to the Father, and Jesus restored and redeemed me.

So can we judge the actions (or inaction) of the president, or anyone else for that matter? Yes, if it is for the purpose to identify sin and then (hopefully) to restore the transgressor through prayer and obedience to the directives of God’s Holy Spirit. At the same time, merely turning the spotlight on another sinner is grossly insufficient and borders on condemnation.  Don’t be afraid to flick on that light, but neither be afraid to step out from behind it to help a soul to his feet. This is the will of God.

Please continue to pray for the president and for our nation.

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

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“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26)

It Ain’t Over

I attended a prayer meeting last night at my church and before we began, my pastor laid out his vision for our time together and asked if there were any questions. One hand went up and the question was asked, “Do I have to pray?” The person expounded a bit and when they finished my pastor summarized their narrative.

“So what you’re saying is that you’re a little shy about praying out-loud in front of other people…I understand…I’d say to you in love: ‘get over it.'”

A Question

My query is not in regard to your participation in corporate prayer, but rather to your passionate presence in your daily witness. If it’s applicable, “Why aren’t you talking about Jesus with the people God has put in your life?”

listIt’s not a rhetorical question; I’d like you to pause and answer it. Pull out a piece of paper (if you have to) and write down the names of the people you had contact with yesterday that you did not take the opportunity to mention Jesus (If there aren’t a lot of names, then consider the people you had contact with for the entire week). Next to each name jot down the reason why you did not or could not mention the Name of Jesus.

Finished?

I suspect that you have some acceptable reasons on your list, but I ask you, to whom are they acceptable? I submit to you that after a thorough examination, with God as your examiner, what you likely have in front of you is a list of fear-based excuses.

“I’ll get fired from my job,” or, “I’ll lose a client,” or “I won’t be able to visit my grand-kids anymore.” 

“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10)

Arguably, those excuses are valid, so I won’t dispute them here.  So let’s put them aside for a moment to give consideration to everyone else; what about all the other people you’ve had contact with? Does it appear that some of those excuses you’re using are being stretched thinly? If so, it’s time to be honest before God. It’s time to reckon that your baseless justifications are contemptuous before the Lord and He may rightly ask you, “Are you ashamed of My Son?”

I’m not condemning you, nor am I suggesting that your salvation is lost (Heaven forbid). What I am saying is that there is no shame in admitting you’re ashamed. You have simply come to an obstacle in the road and it’s time to make a choice. Do you turn around and seek another route? Do you step off the narrow path in an attempt to navigate around the obstruction?  Or, do you stop dead in your tracks and set up camp?

Of course you could always consider this maneuver:

Get over it!

If you’re a Christian, you have within you the power and authority to move forward, over and beyond the things that frighten and hold you back. In so doing you will discover (among other things) that the majority of the issues you fear never come to fruition. They are typically nothing more than seeds of doubt sown my the evil one; seeds that you have nurtured and cultivated through the years. By the dynamic of the Holy Spirit, you can now see these concerns for the weeds that they are and trample them under foot.

Will somebody be offended by the Name of Jesus?

Probably. At some point it’s inevitable.

But know with certainty that the Father will equip you for each and every situation. You need not fear man or worldly consequences. God is with you always. Jesus is your refuge and your high tower. He will see you through safely to the other side.

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe…The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me…do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell…For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (Proverbs 29:25, Hebrews 13:6, Matthew 10:28, 2 Timothy 1:7)

For Those Who Have Ears

This message may not be for you. By that I mean that this message is for you, but you may not be ready to hear it. Frankly, that’s an issue for a whole other blog. Having said that, there are some who are ready and able to see themselves clearly in this mirror and confess that the shameful image they see is their own. That is not meant to be an indictment against anyone, but rather encouragement for those who are ready to move forward for the Glory of the Father, in the Name of Jesus, and in the power of His Holy Spirit.

“Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in Heaven” (Matthew 10:32)

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Many of you actively share your faith, but you remember the time(s) when you did not. Please share below about the decision-making process you went through and how Jesus was faithful to make provision for you. Your encouragement may be precisely the thing someone else needs to hear.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17

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“And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” (Acts 3:4-6)

hgChristians governed by the Holy Spirit do not minister to all people all the time, but rather minister to specific people at specific times, every time.

“Give to the one who asks you” (Matthew 5:42)

A Divine Loophole!

The lame man told Peter what he wanted, but the Holy Spirit, through Peter, gave him what he needed.

Off on a technicality?

Not at all – we’re off on another mission!

*Please leave your comment(s) below

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By faith (Abraham) dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.  Heb. 11:9-10

Yes, I am a tad irate.

If you read my recent Facebook status (in regard to our latest government shutdown) you would probably come away thinking that I was pretty annoyed with our politicians in irategeneral and our president in particular. You would be right. I’m angry that our government has closed up shop, I’m angry that our nation is 17 trillion dollars in debt. I’m angry that half our nation has become (or is becoming) dependent upon government assistance. I’m angry that the constitution is being trampled upon. I’m angry that our leadership is cozy with our enemies.

And that’s just the short list!

Then the Lord offered this explanation:

“The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure: “Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.” “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ” Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, And rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.” (Psalm 2:2-12)

How Appropriate

The Psalmist explicitly states that part of the problem lies with the leaders. Working together, our rulers (nationwide and worldwide), seem to do everything within their power to violate, transgress, and/or contravene the ways of the Lord. As they collectively cut the cords that bind, they legislate ungodly decrees to hinder those of us who choose to cling tightly to them. As the psalm concludes, our Father in Heaven compassionately offers our kings the opportunity to repent.  Hence, it’s only fitting that we pray for them.

The Bigger Problem

It would be easy for us to rest upon the knowledge of Psalm 2 and deny that there are other issues that serve to perpetuate our current national decline (boy, wouldn’t that would be a shame). I believe, based on scripture, that the larger portion of responsibility rests on the shoulders of the church, or more accurately, the nominal Christians who make up the church.

What is a Nominal Christian?

Nominal Christians (NC’s) fall into different categories, ranging from those people who think they’re believers (but have no actual relationship with Jesus Christ), to those who are born again and are severely back-slidden, and everyone in-between. One characteristic common to all NC’s is selfishness; that is to say, they are primarily serving themselves and not Jesus Christ. Plainly said, they are not committed, submitted, or consecrated to God.

Consider God’s words to King Solomon.

When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:13-14

One might look at the present condition of the United States and surmise that the reason for our nation’s downward spiral is because the majority of us are decadent, depraved, and degenerate, non-Christians. I submit to you that’s not the reason at all. Those who aren’t walking with Jesus Christ should be behaving in this manner — it’s what heathens do.

God’s warning to Solomon was for the believers who were acting illicitly. Clearly God is saying to His church that it’s time to clean up our act.  In other words, it’s time for those dirtwho call themselves Christians to start acting like Christians. Our nation is not going down the tubes because of the perverted efforts of one elected official. It has taken us decades to get to where we find ourselves today. Our current president can point to the former president all he wants and proclaim that it’s his fault, but he’s wrong — it’s the churches fault. This wrath we’re witnessing, which is only a very small glimpse of the wrath to come, is our fault and it is a direct warning to the church to repent. God uses those in authority to admonish His children, in much the same way He used King Nebuchadnezzar (and Babylon) to admonish, and ultimately correct, the nation of Israel.

“For I the Lord do not change” Malachi 3:6

What should we do?

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:13-14

If God is saying that we need to be humble, it means that huge numbers of us, since the inception of our nation, have positioned ourselves above His authority. Therefore, we must express godly sorrow for our sin and step down from that post to a place of submission. If you’re not agreeable to this doctrine, then don’t even bother praying, for God will not hear you; the text is that clear. The directive is to be humble, pray, seek Him, and turn away from depravity.  And remember, the ordinance in this context is not for the heathen, it’s for those who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ!

For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 2 Corinthians 7:8-9

Are you angry?

I hope you are.

Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Psalm 4:4

Let your God-given emotion bring you to a place of decision. I hope you’re angry enough to lovingly pray for our government and our leaders. I hope in your anger you allow the Holy Spirit to identify your role in the equation, as I have. I was once a NC and although I have repented, I recognize that my back-sliding days have caused much damage. So while it is true I am forgiven, I am as much responsible for what’s going on in our nation as those who are actively nominal in their faith. It is for this reason we sound the trumpet. There can be no healing of the land unless the church as a whole is submitted to the will of God. It starts with me and it starts with you.

Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ Ezekiel 33:11

But aren’t we aliens in a foreign land?

Why should we care what happens here, after all we’re just passing through, right?

This is true, but we’re also called to be good stewards with the things the Lord has provided to us. How selfish it would be to devour the land and our liberties, without any effort to leave the place better than we found it. We have also been instructed by our creator to submit ourselves to those in authority over us and to obey the laws of the land, as long as those laws do not violate the laws of our Lord. Therefore, it is our duty to sustain that which is good (as prescribed by our forefathers) and maintain that which the Lord has graciously given. In regards to our stewardship, I cannot help but think of Christ’s words to Saul (aka: Paul) on the lonely road to Damascus.

‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’  Acts 26:14-18

I ask you, has God stopped sending people?

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